Monday, January 10, 2011

Heroes Of The Marathon

Maybe some of you have done this before - if not, try this after your next marathon ... 

Long after you have finished in 4 or 5 hours and collected your medal.  Or long after you've ran your PR Boston Qualifier.  And long after you have "penguined" back to the hotel, showered up, and started pumping fuel back into your body.  Go back down to the finish line. Go and cheer the final competitors who are crossing the line in 6 & 7 plus hours.  To me, these are some of the greatest heroes of the marathon.

I've been athletic all my life, and qualifying for the Boston Marathon was my greatest athletic accomplishment.  I had to push myself like never before.  But if you want to see a different kind of guts and heart - go share in the courage and determination that these warriors display as they walk, limp, crawl, and even run across the finish line. 

Many runners have finished hours ago ... and they know this.  Many people have quit ... but they won't.  They have competed along-side superior athletes today ... and this is their day to share in the triumph of great physical accomplishment - regardless of a ticking clock.
Their faces are anguished.  Their legs are wobbly.  And their tired bodies are depleted of fluids and energy.  But they deserve a hero's welcome just like we received.  The crowd will be sparse.  It will be you and a few of their family and friends.  And the race organizers will probably be tearing down the finishing tents, and boxing uneaten wilted fruit.  But the look on their face as they cross same finish line you did is unforgettable.  This is their moment, and it's an honor to share it with them.

I've had the opportunity to do this a few times, and I'm telling you a couple of these moments were almost better than the race itself.  I know sometimes travel plans won't allow you to linger.  But if you can work it into your schedule at all, it might mean the world to someone. 

They did it!  No one thought they ever could ... but they did it!
Be great today!


  1. From a really pokey runner, thank you for this. Love it!

    (ps, your Grandma's marathon tag points me to your Indy post. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this race - I'm doing it this year...)

  2. Bobbi - will do - I've got a few I have to update.

  3. What a wonderful caring act.

  4. I love this post!

    As I get older, speed means less and experince and challenge means more. At my last Ultra after I finished I stay at the bonfire cheering runners in...for hours. I thought about my challenge and my experince. That mental game I had played as I saw certain times pass and I knew the winners would already be done. Here came runners who had been going at whatever pace they could for 7, 8, 9+ hours. The last runner, had injuried her ankle around mile 5. She and several other runners (who has stayed with her) crossed that line with giant smiles on their faces! That is an accomplishment. Not giving up when there is nothing to "win" but the finish line.

  5. You are absolutely take time and cheer them on is great. I was a DNS for a half yet my BF was still running the full. I left the start and came back to cheer on the people finishing the half and then the marathoners. It was a great experience and people thanked me later for cheering them on.

    You have a great site...I really like how you have it set up.


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